Day One (08.10.2011)
Written in Tim’s notebook at 4am (local time) 09/10/2011 - uploading it to here at 5:30am.
Okay, so I’m just going to start this however and finish where I feel like it! I won’t bother thinking about what I’m going to write before it flows of my pen as it feels more organic to write this in one long stream of consciousness.
I intend this journal to be more than just a travel diary; I’d like it to be a catalogue of thoughts, experiences, reflections of Brothelliana and our manifesto, and yes, perhaps also some inspired poetry or poetical prose. Who knows? After all, ‘to be prescriptive would be to undermine our deep respect for artistic freedom’, (paraphrased from the Brothellian Manifesto, co-written with Steven Silverman).
I’m writing this from a first floor porch (although, in America, this is the second floor) in a nice neighbourhood in Queens. Yup, that’s right, we’re in Queens, but the English stereotype is pretty inaccurate (he writes as an undercover police car stops across the road); it’s huge, and yes it has it’s bad areas, but this is a nice one, and I certainly don’t feel unsafe snuggled up next to Ells (!) in this spacious, middle class apartment. I’m just glad we didn’t spoon.
Our journey to this apartment was ever so slightly epic - ‘epic’, as is the American way, and ‘ever so slightly’, to bring a modest touch of English sensibility to the phrase. I won’t bore you with the travel details, but we went from the airtrain to the subway, then took the E train to Jackson Heights - Roosevelt. We ascended the exit stairs and pushed onto the street of a predominantly Asian, but still very multi-racial neighbourhood, (our Filipino host, Mel, and his friend, Ilah, would later tell us that the minorities were the majority, thinking that this would be a shock to me, obviously unaware of the ethnic diversity of Leicester’s people!) So yes, from the very first moment we pushed out onto the street, I felt at home. It’s a lot like England, but with a million little differences!
We waited fo Ilah at the medical centre rendezvous, which gave us a good twenty minutes/half hour to people-watch, chilling in the light of the red sunset, and after meeting she treated us to a coffee and an amazing strawberry muffin she’d brought with her from a party, (baked in a specialist shop in Manhattan, but I can’t remember the name). The coffee was just hot coffee, but it tasted pretty damn good, and the guy who ran the place had a thick, Matt Serra-style ‘Noo Yorwak’ accent. He was a nice guy, only recently acquiring the place and charging just $1.50 for a bagel & coffee, minus tip. Mel Joined us there, and after we finished our drinks he took us to a little thai place round the corner.
(As I’m typing this, I’m watching the sun rise. It’s magical: the colour of the sky’s worked backwards from burnt parchment to burning paper, and now looks like an unwritten page from an antique tome; the street’s porch-lights are still on, a series of little white flames against it’s endless majesty. Familiar birds are singing unfamiliar songs).
We ate chicken from a lettuce leaf wrap and tried the nicest chicken satay sauce I’ve ever tasted. We discussed the Poetry Brothel in the flickering candlelight, explaining it (along with all our other events) is but a gateway for all to witness Brothelliana at work. Without shows like the Poetry Brothel exciting the average person to keep them investing in the arts, the Brothellian vision would remain obscured by myth and hearsay.
Mel mentioned that he feels forced into his current career (medicine) due to his natural affinity, and that he’s always seen himself as a creative guy but his profession makes him feel as though he can’t pursue his creativity. I quoted sections from the Brothellian Manifesto as one of the chapters fitted with this predicament perfectly. I told him that barriers aren’t insurmountable obstacles, but a challenge. They give all creative individuals a chance to reflect on what really matters, a chance to look at things differently, for when one changes perspective, so does the way the barrier appears. They can be manipulated to encourage proactivity, which will in turn aid our development as creative individuals. If one’s path is truly blocked, walk a different path, an unused path, or just make a new one. I remember reading an old Celtic saying in a hut on some ancient battlefield which read “If you’re walking the path, you’re walking someone else’s path, and therefore not having an adventure.” Not everyone wants adventure, but if they want their name to endure, they must cut oneself a path through the world or perish in the attempt, as Byron did. They must move towards their chosen horizon like a wrestler: forward, or diagonally, but never backwards. When they reach it - and with enough dedication, they will reach it - they’ll discover a world of horizons to pursue.
Grabbed a subway back to Mel’s after dinner; saw a few rats chilling on the track, only a few feet away, without a care in the world but fucking and their next mudsoaked meal. Got back to his apartment and felt woozy from the jetlag, but talked for another hour, then collapsed in a nicely dressed lump on the foldout bed. Now, the stars are still out but the air’s still and cool. The traffic mumbles on in the distance but there’s something calming about it’s continuity; we may stop listening, but the city never stops talking.
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